If we were all told as children to not talk to strangers, why do we seem to believe in the inherent safety of getting into a car with one? Ride-hail apps have been problematic since their inception, from the poor treatment of their drivers to the never ending drama between executives and shareholders, but the most harmful on the list of problems are the incidents of drivers sexually assaulting passengers. To date, hundreds of sexual assault incidents have been reported, with multiple class action suits filed. And while these companies claim to be doing everything they can to mitigate this issue, there still seems to be dangerous gaps in the process of vetting drivers.
Enough is enough!
As a response to the never ending allegations of drivers assaulting passengers, PAVE, (Promoting Awareness & Victim Empowerment) has teamed up with the legendary Pamela Anderson to launch a PSA about the dangers of inherently trusting just any driver. Founded in 2001 by Angela Rose in response to her own experience of being kidnapped from a shopping mall and sexually assaulted when she was 17, PAVE empowers students, parents, and civic leaders to end sexual violence with prevention education. Being a victim of sexual abuse herself, Pamela jumped on the opportunity to shed light on this issue and help bring awareness to the fact that this problem is not being adequately addressed.
“I think that the issue of safety of passengers needs to be addressed jointly with the whole way how gig economy works,” says Anderson in between takes during last week’s PSA shoot in Manhattan. ”In addition to pushing for tougher driver screening programs, the position of drivers and conditions under which they operate must be addressed. So Uber and other companies have to stop pretending they are just operating software that links drivers and passengers as they are much more. And with that, comes more responsibility which they so far have largely refused to accept.”
Pamela also notes that this campaign is not an attack on drivers as a whole, but suggests that poor working conditions may be a deterrent for experienced drivers with a penchant for professionalism, leaving the door wide open for those who should not be trusted in the driver’s seat of these vehicles.
“I find it really pathetic how these companies exploit their drivers,” she adds. “They are not considered employed even if they exclusively work for these companies. They get no sick pay, no holiday pay. They are supposed to be liberated entrepreneurs but they are de facto precarious workers exploited by global companies. So, it is important to remember that when trying to fight for safety of passengers, this is not a fight against Uber drivers and this needs to go hand in hand with attempts to draw attention to the conditions under which they operate, and how the companies are taking advantage of them. These issues are linked and should be addressed jointly.”
As a survivor herself, Pamela continues to be a powerful voice for women, in spite of backlash she received over her comments made on a recent episode of Megan Kelly Today which seem to have been taken out of context. After sharing her own story of being bullied by Harvey Weinstein and the fact that she is not surprised about the multitude of allegations against him, she made reference to the fact that throughout her career, she was presented with opportunities and gifts that she vehemently avoided. Some feminist groups took offence to Pamela’s suggestions that women - especially women in Hollywood - need to keep their eyes open and their guards up, and chalked it up to victim blaming.
“I did not say that women deserved being abused or that the pigs like Weinstein were not to be punished,” Pam wrote on her Instagram account following the backlash she received. “Quite [the] opposite. I said myself that Weinstein is a sexist pig and a bully. So this is not victim blaming, but looking at the issue from the angle of women being aware of certain problems and how to spot them and fight them. It is totally hypocritical to ignore this. And it is not helping anyone to ignore the realities in the society we live in. The causes of the problem and solutions are complex and women who do not live in the utopian bubble must be aware of what is going on. And that is what I have highlighted.”
The PSA is scheduled for release on January 9th, 2018.